Karen E. Robidoux, the Attleboro religious sect member charged with murder in the starvation death of her year-old son, yesterday asked the Superior Court to be tried separately from her husband, Jacques D. Robidoux, who also is charged with murder.
Karen Robidoux also asked for the state to pay for a handwriting expert, to counter a prosecution expert who said Robidoux had disguised her handwriting when giving a court-ordered sample. The sample was to be used to determine whether Robidoux wrote any of several journals the police seized from the sect's home, which prosecutors say detail the starvation of Samuel Robidoux. The boy died April 26, 1999, three days before his first birthday.
Robidoux's requests came in motions filed in Superior Court yesterday, the deadline for pretrial motions in the case. Motions are scheduled to be heard before Judge Elizabeth B. Donovan on March 4. A trial date is also expected to be chosen that day. The hearing will be at 9 a.m. in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. Donovan, who is now sitting in Norfolk, has been assigned to handle the sect trial.
Prosecutor Walter Shea said yesterday that he had not yet taken a position on Robidoux's motions, but that he probably would oppose the motion for separate trials. He said it would not be appropriate for the district attorney's office to take a position on a defendant's request for money to pay for expert testimony.
Robidoux cites three grounds in seeking a separate trial from her husband.
First, Robidoux says that her defense may be antagonistic to that of her husband.
The lawyer who represented Karen Robidoux immediately after she was indicted 15 months ago told reporters that she had tried to feed her baby -- had even snuck food to him on occasions -- but that her husband prevented her from giving the boy any more.
Her current lawyer has in the past declined to comment on defense strategy and could not be reached yesterday.
Robidoux also says that she anticipates prosecutors will introduce journals that probably were written by her husband, but not by her.
Robidoux also says that separate trials are needed to preserve the rights spouses have in legal proceedings, especially regarding testifying against each other.